This week’s blog features a Mercure hotel I enjoyed in Abu Dhabi, and my favorite quotes and single word from the last 12 months.
I wish you all a very merry Christmas, or whichever celebration you are celebrating at this time of year, and a very happy new year. Thanks for reading my blogs throughout 2019.
I have a round up for you at this end of a decade, even if you believe the new decade actually begins on 1 January 2021. Try telling the marketers to hold off for one more year!
My best hotels of 2019
My favorite hotels are not usually based on how jaw-dropping they are when the lobby is entered, but on service, atmosphere and my lightness of being at the time, especially if I can go birdwatching. I have mentioned previously my delight at the service at the Little Charms Hanoi Hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam, but as I did not stay overnight there, I will not include it, although I just did:
- Sa Baronia, Banyalbufar, Mallorca, Spain: Nothing to look at from outside, but it felt like I had stepped back in time 60 years, and wonderfully so. It had a writing desk in what can only be described as a sitting room and a grandfather clock in need of some repair that went tick-tock loudly and reassuringly. No one else ever went in the sitting room, and I enjoyed being given a real key at check-in. Earlier that day I had finally seen an endangered Red-knobbed coot, a rare bird that in Europe only lives on this island, so I was in a very good mood.
- Spreezeit Hotel, Lübbenau, Germany: I stayed here the weekend before the International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin, and what a find it was. It has the sunniest breakfast room in the world (this is entirely unprovable), and it is right next door to a bike-hire shop and hundreds of miles of pathways alongside thin canal amidst woods and wet fields where Eurasian crane probed for earthworms. The area also is bilingual, with Swabian, an upper German language, written on numerous signs, but probably not so often spoken. The staff here could not have been sweeter.
- Mercure Grand Jebel Hafeet Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: This Accor-branded hotel sits seven-eighths the way up the 4,000-or-so-foot mountain of Jebel Hafeet in the United Arab Emirates very close to Abu Dhabi’s border with Oman. The hotel itself is thoughtfully landscaped so as not to be seen from every possible vantage point on this huge mound of rock, and driving up to it, one gets to feel quite adventurous. Plus, there were Hume’s wheatear, Sand partridge and Egyptian vulture hopping and flying around. Along with the Liwa oasis, Al Ain is the most distinct area to go to in the UAE if the modern wonders of Dubai do not rock your boat.
Word of the year
That the world needs a “word of the year,” as Time magazine requires a “person of the year” (2019’s is climate activist Greta Thunberg), is now a fact whether it is highly anticipated or the biggest yawn of the previous 12 months.
Dictionary compiler Merriam-Webster said this year that word is “They,” due to its growing use this year as a word that does not provide a gender to those considering themselves non-binary individuals.
The Hotel News Now word of the year, according to me and me alone, is “uncertainty,” a word I am certain to hear all the time and that covers all eventualities, requires no further explanation and seems effortlessly appropriate to fob off shareholders until at least the next quarter’s earnings results.
We now know—as we’ve certainly been told—that uncertainty rules all political discourse in the United Kingdom, around Brexit and economics.
So, there you have it, my first annual choice for #HNNWotY, but we might just now start seeing less uncertainty now that the Conservative Party has won a sizable majority in last week’s general election, a vote that might turn out to more of a ringing endorsement of Brexit than it is a ringing endorsement of the Tories
Quotes of the year
I have attended numerous conferences throughout 2019, and the range of debate and panelists has been largely excellent.
“We were supposed to be dying because of Airbnb, but Airbnb is achieving staggering growth rates, and the hotel sector is achieving fantastic occupancy; we have survived the mother of all disruption.” —Cody Bradshaw, managing director and head of European hotels, Starwood Capital Group.
“Our competition is local competitors, and we are the only hotel chain Accor has not bought.” —Kike Sarasola, president and founder, Room Mate Group … “Well, it is only 10 o’clock in the morning.”—Russell Kett, chairman of business consultancy HVS London, responding to Sarasola.
“I consider that quite the achievement. Thousands and thousands have graduated from there, but only 10 have been thrown out” —Ho Kwon Ping, executive chairman, Banyan Tree Holdings, speaking of his expulsion from Stanford University.
“Perhaps the most important thing about Belmond (IT) integration is how to get discounted prices on handbags.” —Bryan Hammer, VP of information technology, Belmond, speaking of his hotel firm’s recent acquisition by French luxury goods firm LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE.
See you all in 2020.
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